Note from BW of Brazil: The rise in the number of black Brazilian women having access to a college education has also expanded their study of not only Brazilian authors, but the works of international writers. As such, beyond the works of important black Brazilian women scholars such as Sueli Carneiro and Lélia Gonzalez, as well as Carolina de Jesus, the woman who rose from poverty in São Paulo to the international stage, the works of international writers such as Angela Davis and bell hooks are being discussed and debated in Afro-Brazilian women’s circles.
Another writer whose name has popped up in the writings of black Brazilian women is the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The author of Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013), a collection of short stories entitled The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), and the book-length essay We Should All Be Feminists (2014), earned a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2008. The Times Literary Supplement called her “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [who] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”. Her Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in 2017.
Adichie is currently featured on the cover of the Brazilian edition of Marie Claire magazine and she yet another non-Brazilian voice who perceives the extreme invisibility of black Brazilians in various genres of the Brazilian experience. Like American filmmaker Spike Lee, Mozambican writer Paulina Chiziane, American activist Angela Davis, Rwandan writer Scholastique Mukasonga, and numerous others, Adichie points out the shocking exclusion of black faces in prominent, important positions that could that could be used to change the image black Brazilians and increase their participation in all white spaces.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Brazil has a race problem, black people don’t have access to positions of power”
In an interview with Marie Claire, the Nigerian writer analyzes the institutionalized racism in Brazil and reflects on the turn to the right: “It is important to remember that Brazil is a country of immigrants. If we had that same rhetoric [of prejudice] before, the president of the country would probably not even be there.”
Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, one of today’s leading feminists and thinkers, is on the cover and on the pages of Marie Claire’s special anniversary edition.
Behind the scenes, Chimamanda chatted with us about the evolution of her works. “I learned by reading stories that all humans are flawed. We are not perfect and we don’t have to be,” she points out.
“I didn’t know I was black until I went to the United States. I didn’t understand myself as black because in Nigeria everyone is black,” she says, reflecting on the racism she suffered when she arrived on another continent. This, too, made her understand how being black was more than skin color, but a political identity.
When she draws a parallel with Brazil, Chimamanda makes a point of emphasizing that here there is a very serious problem of structural and institutionalized racism. “It seems to me that in Brazil, the higher you go, the more invisible the black people are.”
TURN TO THE RIGHT
“The world is spinning to the right and that makes me sad,” the writer lamented. “The reason I’m saddened is that leaders are beginning to normalize a cruel rhetoric in which immigrants are dehumanized. It’s important to remember that Brazil is a country of immigrants. If we had that same rhetoric [of prejudice] before, the president of the country would probably not even be there.”
Source: Revista Marie Claire